Family Memories Created.

 

Psalm 145
Let each generation tell its children of his mighty acts.  Everyone will share the story of your mighty acts, wonderful miracles and your wonderful goodness.   Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.  You rule generation after generation.

Last weekend I invited family to visit.  It was an opportunity at the end of the summer and before children go back to school to spend time with one another.  It was also our son John’s birthday.  We remembered other family members’ birthdays that are in August and September.

Isaac is home on a visit from Canada and Angela is leaving to study in Queen’s university.  No, not in Belfast but in Kingston, Ontario far acros the Atlantic in Canada.
The weekend was a great success.  God blessed us with good weather.  We had clear skies in the day and night.  The sun shone and the full moon shone brightly over the bay in front of our home.

I wanted to show my family a National Trust Property at the end of the Ards Peninsula, where there are open spaces of fields and beaches.  Cousins went off together to climb down to the waters edge.  The grandchildren threw stones in the water and our children chatted with each other, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere.  One of my grandchildren joined me to collect sea glass and pottery.  I was amazed to find some there on top of the stones high above the shoreline.  Over the weekend I was given gifts of finds from the beach the grandchildren had picked for me.  I will make a collage to remind us of the event.

Brendan is excellent at creating memories.  He brought a kite which he launched and flew overheard for the time we were at the beach.  I am reminded of the song,
“His banner of us is love.”

Brendan lit a fire.  Everyone, young and old gathered sticks and debris that kept the fire burning.  Someone found a Wellington boot.  A competition to see who could throw the welly the furthest happened.  Grandchildren, children and grandparents took part.  Everyone was included.  Brendan can create fun without expense.  Memories were created.

When we parked the cars, dark clouds in the distance threated a downpour.  We contined anyway.  The clouds did not get to us.  Instead a beautiful rainbow appeared overhead.

We returned home tired and thirsty.  Everyone slept  well that night.

The weekend was an opportunity to share with my family all the “wonderful goodness” God has given to us this last year, new homes, jobs, grandchildren, continued good health and travel.  God is faithful.

I am inspired by the festivals Moses commanded the people of Israel to have when families gathered for a week to spend time together.  I think it is a good idea for family to get together for a day or weekend at least.

I am alive to see the next generation and tell them about God’s mighty acts in my life.

I Began to Fear Growing Old.

I was reading a list of recommendations given by Pat Devilly a popular fitness trainer from Galway, on his post.  A line on the list reads,

“Spend time with people over seventy and under the age of six.”

Having reared fourteen children, I have spent much time with children.  I have to admit I have not spent much time with older people over the years.

After reading this Blog by Pat Devilly, I decided to pay a visit to an elderly friend.  Ten years ago she had two knee replacements.  She was very brave and recovered well.  Every night her sleep is disturbed by night sweats.  She has to change her night dress through the night.  I thought “Poor lady, she has to endure this hardship.”  I was humbled to hear about her difficulties but she continues enduring without complaint.
I began to fear growing old and with it failing health.

I was reading on Facebook recipes for being forever young.  Drink plenty of water, eat vegetables, don’t take sugar or processed foods, go for walks, garden, lose weight.  The list goes on and on.  I realized I would become exhausted trying to be forever young and eating lettuce to avoid pains and aches that many older people suffer.

I began to drink more water and my whole system reacted to the excess fluid.  I wasn’t well for days!  I tried to diet but failed miserably.  I try to go for a walk but other demands come first.  The weeds are flourishing in my garden!  The dreams of cooking wonderful dishes with the herbs from my garden has not materialized.

I decided to stop reading such articles on Facebook, I stopped drinking excess water, I eat when I’m hungry and don’t starve myself.  I will go for a walk when I desire, not because I should.  I will go back to gardening when I have the strength.  I will continue to wear the dress size I need to and not try to fit into a smaller size.  My body and mind were getting stressed with the fear.

I reminded myself of the scripture fromPsalm 91
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;  He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (‭Psalm‬ ‭91‬:‭14-16‬ NIV)

God promises me a long life.  If I have any sickness, pain or any other trouble in the future God promises to deliver me from each one.  As for me I will enjoy my life each day and not live in fear.  God has delivered me from death by healing me from cancer.  He will continue to help me.

Testimony Tuesday. My Experience of How Nature Restores My Mind.

I was reading and article on the internet, from the New York Times, written by Gretchen Reynolds.  It is entitled “How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain.”  I will quote some of the article,

“A walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health, according to an interesting new study of the physical effects on the brain of visiting nature.

City dwellers also have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses than people living outside urban centers, studies show.

Volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on a questionnaire. They were not dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives as much as they had been before the walk.  They were allowed to walk at their own pace.  As might have been expected, walking along the highway had not soothed people’s minds.

Most of us today live in cities and spend far less time outside in green, natural spaces than people did several generations ago.”

Thank you Gretchen Reynolds for this article.  I agree with this article.

In Psalm 23 I read,

The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful waters.  (‭Psalms‬ ‭23‬:‭1-2‬ NLT)

I lived in a town house when our children were small.  I grew up in the country and I longed to live again in the country.  I dreamed of my children putting on their Wellington boots and going out to play in nature in all kinds of weather, as I did when I was growing up.

Being in the town had more benefits for our family at that stage.  The schools, post office, shops, library, swimming pool, dentist, medical centre and friends lived nearby.  Driving my children to school, or to the shops would have added stress to our already busy lives.  I was at peace and realised living in the town was the best thing for us then.

Before we had a car Brendan and I always took our children on walks along the river or into a forest, nearby.  When our family increased we went for drives to the beach or other beauty sites a little further away.  Everyone piled into our minibus and headed out for a drive after tea or on a Saturday to enjoy nature.  We returned tired, refreshed and had a good night’s sleep.

Being in the middle of nature did lift any stress we or our children were under.  Any bad feelings or attitudes were forgotten as the children played together.  Brendan knew what would do us all good.  No need for headache tablets or Prozac for us.

Brendan and I now live in the country, beside a forest and the sea.  We have a double portion of nature.  Each time Brendan and I would take a walk for a mile along the foreshore we see something new.   One evening we saw six large storks that rose up from their feeding places as we walked along.   Their big wings flapped like skirts and they screeched, because they were unsettled from their feeding positions.  Never mind we had a wonderful display.

Another time I noticed something stir in the shallow water off the shore.  Air bubbled to the surface.  Was there a whale or dolphin out there.  No, three divers came to the surface.  It is a popular spot to explore wrecks of ships out in the bay.   A seal swam in the water along side as we walked by another time.  Every evening  there is a beautiful sky as the sun shines through the clouds at sunset.

We went for a walk along Barhill Rd, a National Trust property one Saturday evening.  Not many people know about it.  A lane took us to open ground beside a near a newly sown corn field.  We saw six hares play together in the evening sun.  The path continued down to the sea.  We walked along a bar made from stones throw up by decades of sea waves.  Across from us on an island lay many fat seals, safe from an intrusion.  We rested a while, amazed.  “How Great Thou Art”

Brendan and I are certainly enjoying nature and our minds and moods are being changed by the healing environment where we live.  Our souls are being restored.

Yes I recommend old and young getting out in nature for a walk.  You will be surprised by the show God puts on for you.   You can listen to the music of birds, leaves, wind and waves.  Your eyes will see life around you.

Nature declares the Glory of God!

Your Garden can be a Little Bit of Heaven.

I loved watching the gardening programme on TV, Gardeners World, with Alan Titchmarsh.   He introduced us to the beauty and peace of gardening even if one didn’t have a garden of their own or were too busy with other work at hand, which for me was raising children.

Last summer after we moved house I was up early and out into the sunshine.  It was the beginning of a new season for my husband and myself.  We had left behind a big house and a big garden with mature trees.  We didn’t need the big house any more.  Our children had left home.   It was goodbye to my herb garden and Magnolia tree we had planted years before.

We brought all our potted plants with us, plants that Brendan and I had collected over many years.  It was always a surprise to see each spring what would erupt from each pot.  We had forgotten what was in each one.  Those early morning, quiet moments inspired me to give some attention to the life springing up in the pots. There was need for some care.   I watered, weeded, uprooted, divided, replanted and pruned as necessary.   I got my hands dirty repotting some that were pot bound.

Those early mornings in the sunshine was doing me good.  I was experiencing healing in my mind after all the trauma of suffering from cancer.  As Psalm 23 says, “My soul was being restored.”   I was not lying awake worrying, or nursing some grudge, or feeling depressed and not wanting to get out of bed.  When I awoke I got up.  The dawn chorus greeted me.  I looked up and saw aeroplanes on their way from North America to some destination in the east, perhaps London.  I marvelled  how God looks after all of creation.  He does not slumber.  I was up early to meet him in my garden.

I was not surprised when I came across this article on the internet about “How dirt makes you happy,” by Bonnie L Grant.  I quote,

“Prozac may not be the only way to get rid of your serious blues. Soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain and are without side effects and chemical dependency potential. Learn how to harness the natural antidepressant in soil and make yourself happier and healthier. Read on to see how dirt makes you happy.

Did you know that there’s a natural antidepressant in soil? It’s true. Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study and has indeed been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier. Studies were conducted on cancer patients and they reported a better quality of life and less stress.”

I agree.  I have found that working in my garden has brought me healing.

Our ancestors Adam and Eve’s home was a garden.  All the work they had to do was tend the garden and eat its fruit.

This year I am working in my garden.  I am getting the healing benefits of breathing in the fresh air and other good things released from the earth to help my immune system and calm my nervous system.  I get to enjoy the gentle wet rain on my face, or the warm sunshine on my back.   I enjoy the exercise of watering and weeding.  I am tired at the end of the day and I am ready for sleep.  I get the benefits as well of fresh lettuce and herbs to brighten up my meals.  In the spring I planted all kinds of lettuce, celery, cabbage and many herbs in my raised beds.  I am using bio friendly sea weed that I collect from the beach as a fertiliser.  My vegetables are flourishing.

I was reading a book recently.  The author was recounting how her parents had a stormy relationship.  Her mother died at fifty three of cancer and never lived to see the author’s success in life.  The writer had a dream about her mother.  In the dream her mother was happy tending her garden that was filled with all kinds of beautiful flowers and plants.  The dream was showing her that her mother is in happy place where there is beauty and peace, heaven.

I know there is a heaven, but God doesn’t want me to go there yet.  He wants me to enjoy heaven on earth and tell others they can have heaven on earth too.  Every believer says the Lord’s Prayer, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  Bring heaven on earth.  There is no sickness in heaven, no strife, no war, no crying or evil.  As the scientists have discovered get out in your garden and your mood will change.  You can have a heaven on earth in your garden, where you will experience peace, joy, healing and restoration.

Kiss of the sun for pardon,

Song of birds for mirth,

You’re closer to God’s heart in a garden,

Than any place on earth.

Author, Dorothy Frances Gurney

I attended a funeral service in my local Church.  The pastor was telling us about the man who had just died.  He had lived to the ripe old age of ninety two.  “In retirement he and his wife enjoyed gardening” the celebrant recounted.  “He grew vegetables and his wife grew flowers.”  They both loved gardening.  I hope my husband and I enjoy a long life like this couple did.

Thy Kingdom come on earth.

A Cruise Ship is Anchored Offshore

Portaferry was a busy port many years ago when fuel and goods were transported by ships.  It has a natural, sheltered harbour and had easy access to England across the Irish Sea. There were not the road networks we enjoy today, when many goods  are transported in lorries.  Many ships would have been docked at the port waiting to unload and then restock with local wheat or potatoes.

But the big ships do not visit any more.  There are some yachts parked in the Marina. The Portaferry Strangford ferry is the biggest vehicle in these parts.

I was pleasantly surprised one evening back in July.  Brendan and I had just returned from visiting our daughter and her husband in Scotland.  I had the pleasure of seeing a luxury liner enter the waters of Strangford Lough and put down anchor in the bay in front of our home.  No it was not the Queen Mary or the Queen Elizabeth.  It was the Hebridean Princess, a small ship but never the less a luxury one.   It caters for fifty people in sheer luxury, according to its website.  Out there on the lough the customers will be settling down to fine dining.  The ship was visiting Irish waters to let their customers see our green land.

It was Gala Week on the lough.  Many yachts with their colourful sails were messing about on the water.  I looked out and saw many yachts with their sails catching the evening wind.  Red, blue, white, small and tall sails.  In the middle of the flotilla the Hebridean Princess appears.

IMG_2726

I wanted to find some information about this ship.  Where did it come from? Was it from Scotland, maybe the Hebrides off Scotland. To my delight I discovered the vessel was originally a ferry that traveled between the Scotland mainland and a Scottish Island.  It had been bought in 1989 and was restructured to become a cruise ship.

MV Hebridean Princess is a cruise ship operated by Hebridean Island Cruises. She started life as the MacBrayne car ferry and Royal Mail Ship, initially RMS then MV Columba, based in Oban for the first 25 years of her life, carrying up to 600 passengers, and 50 cars, between the Scottish islands.

My son in law’s father was the manager of the Caledonian Mac Brayne fleet.  He was instrumental in putting into service ferries that would connect the Scottish Islands to the mainland.  He did a great job. I appreciate the service our local ferry provides, connecting Portaferry to Strangford.

The Caledonian MacBrayne fleet is the largest fleet of car and passenger ferries in the United Kingdom. With 30 units in operation, the company provides lifeline services to 22 islands off the west coast of Scotland, as well as operating routes across the River Clyde.

I was touched that I am connected to the history of the cruise ship that came to visit Strangford Lough that day.

This post is dedicated to Stuart.  Happy Birthday!

Daily Prompt. Through the Window.

I live in a beautiful place.  I live on the Narrows at the entrance to Strangford Lough, the largest sea lough in Ireland.

Today the weather is different than many of the days recently.  Winds blew and the surface of the water was ruffled.  In the distance the sea swell made breaking waves at the mouth of the lough.  Yesterday sea and sky were grey.  The  sea reflected the storm clouds.

But today all is well.  I look out my window and see still, blue waters that stretch to the mouth of the lough where it joins the Irish Sea.  It is unusually quiet.  There is no bird song.  There are no birds flitting about.  They have no need to attract a mate.  The young have flown the nest.

The Strangford Ferry is out in the middle of the bay.  The sound of the Diesel engine is a welcome sound.  It breaks the silence.  It is faithful to travel back and forth between Portaferry and Stangford.  It provides an important service.  I do not feel cut off from the rest of the world.  One mile down the road I can catch this ferry and It brings me into the world again.

For the moment I am enjoying the view out my window.  The sea meets the sky in the middle of my panorama.  Both are blue today.  The morning sun rises.  There is a contrast of greens before me.  My lawn, which was cut recently, is light green.  The mature trees’ leaves are dark green.  Their green outline stands out against the blue sky.   Red poppies and hosta at the side of my garden welcome the warm sunshine.

Our cat sits on the window sill, waiting patiently for her meal.  She washs her face with her paw.  I don’t feel guilty as I eat my breakfast.

The lough seawater slowly rises with the tide and approaches the sea wall at the bottom of my garden.
Today there are no crashing waves making the waters approach menacing.  A lone yacht is anchored in the bay.  There is no sound of the metal tinkling against the mast.

I thank God this morning for the view out my window.  My eyes are brightened.   I am alive to see the goodness of God in the land of the Living.

Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, (‭Psalm‬ ‭13‬:‭3‬ NIV)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/

What Happened to the Long Sunny Days?

Here in Ireland we have had a wet, windy, cold July.  Fires were lit and the heating turned up in our homes.  Festivals were damped by the bad weather.  People were beginning to suffer S.A.D. syndrome.  This is a condition which describes someone who is depressed because he hasn’t received enough sunshine.
I encouraged myself and others “Don’t worry there will be good weather soon because the farmers have to harvest their crops.”
The Lord promises seed time and harvest.

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (‭Genesis‬ ‭8‬:‭22‬ NIV)

The warm, still, bright, sunny weather has arrived!  While out driving yesterday we saw a field of corn  that was harvested.  The grain was taken away in a big truck and the golden straw was freshly baled.
At eight o’clock last evening a local farmer was preparing grass to be made into silage.  He was drawing a machine that was about eighteen foot wide.  It gathered the cut grass into a line.  Another machine is used to collect the grass into circular bales.  Last night after twelve we heard the sound of tractors trundling along the road nearby.  They worked through the night in case the weather changed.

I mused.  We do have “climate change.”

I remember my father harvesting a field of corn.  His family were out helping him, girls and boys.  My brother and he would cut the corn while we came behind gathering the cut stalks into bundles and tying them with a few stalks pulled from the bunch.  A stook would be formed by standing four sheaves of corn on their ends and tied together at the top.  This helped the sheaves to dry.  We worked together as a family.  Those were happy days for my father with his family around him.  Mummy would bring tea and homemade bread drenched with butter to the field for the workers.  It tasted good eating a bit of bread and a drink of tea in the sunshine together.  A hare would scuttle in the distance and the corncrake sang in the meadow.  Sweet communion, mankind with each other and with nature.  

The warm days lasted as we harvested the crops.  I do believe we don’t have as many warm days nowadays.  One reason for  climate change I suppose no one has thought of.  The modern farm machinery do the work of many men and finish the work in a shorter time.  They don’t need as many good days.  The hares and corncrakes have left the meadows because the farm machines destroy their nests.  One farmer owns many acres and meadows.  Gone are the days when a small farmer could make a living to feed his family.  The youth have gone from the land too.  The joy of harvest is missing in our land.  There is not the community atmosphere of helping one another to gather in the harvest.  The talk, sharing of stories and the banter is missing.  In Ireland, people danced at the crossroads when the harvest was over.  Marriages were made and family ties strengthened to help one another through another year.  The days of sunshine have left too!